This message is taken primarily from Galatians chapters one and two. Regardless of your concepts concerning being a Christian, it would be difficult to study these chapters without your concepts changing to at least some degree. Being a Christian involves a great deal. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not enough to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. It is not enough to believe that he actually lived in Israel almost 2,000 years ago. It is not enough to believe that He was born a virgin. It is not enough to believe that He died and was resurrected. Most non-Christians believe those things. It would be difficult to find very many, even among them, who do not believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. Even the demons believed He was the Son of God (Matthew 8:29), and they are obviously not saved. So being a Christian must go beyond those things.
There must be a commitment to the Lord. We must trust Him to the point of putting all our weight on Him. Really trusting the Lord is probably one of the hardest things for a Christian to do. Any Christian will say they trust the Lord, but to really trust Him – to come to the place where you are not worried or concerned, the cares of this life are not a burden – is another ballgame entirely.
Galatians 1:3-8 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and
from our Lord Jesus Christ,
4 Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
It is not difficult to sense the intensity of Paul’s spirit. He was a man of great boldness. He knew the Lord. He knew the gospel of Christ. It was not just events that he believed in; it was a way of life to him. It was something he lived. His love for the purity of the gospel of Christ caused him to be quick to speak against another gospel: If any man preaches any other gospel unto you…let him be accursed.
What was the “another gospel” that Paul referred to? Who were the men that preached it? And did they preach Jesus Christ as Savior?
Galatians 2:11-13 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him
to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
The men preaching “another gospel” were Judaizers, who had come from James. James was the overseer of the church in Jerusalem; he was also an apostle. So these Judaizers were Christians from the church in Jerusalem, and they did preach Jesus Christ as Savior. That being the case, what was wrong with their gospel? Why did Paul oppose them so? Even though they preached Christ, Paul was so vehement in his denunciation of them that he said, “Let them be accursed.”
These men of the circumcision not only preached Jesus Christ as Savior, but they also insisted that the law of Moses be kept. They declared that a Christian had to keep the Sabbath, be circumcised, and follow the law of Moses. There are Christians today who believe that circumcision has a spiritual significance. Some Christian groups adhere greatly to keeping the Sabbath (Saturday). In fact most Fundamentalists, though they consider Sunday as the Sabbath, are quite dogmatic about the Sabbath. When Christians do not learn to walk with God they tend to emphasize religious rituals. So Paul is warning the Galatians that this kind of teaching will turn them from the purity of the gospel of Christ. I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel. Galatians 1:6.
With just a surface reading one would think that Paul was talking about some weird cult or off-the-wall religion. But remember rat poison is 99% wheat and 1% arsenic. The false ministries who are the most deceptive and can do the most damage are those whose doctrines are right in almost every respect, but the spirit of it tends to lead people astray from the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If someone came along preaching about a sun god or moon god or claiming to be Christ, that would be obvious and wouldn’t deceive very many. But if someone came along preaching Jesus as Savior and many of the truths that you believe, adding some legalistic doctrines so that you are depending on legalism instead of faith in Christ and the grace of God, then that could be effective in leading you away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians under that kind of ministry learn to put faith in works and disciplines instead of the Lord Jesus Christ. Their spiritual status is determined by their faithfulness to their religious organization, church attendance, soul winning, good works, Bible reading, abstaining from their “don’t do’s,” etc. On the surface it would be difficult to find anything wrong with these things, but when they become that which you are having faith in instead of Christ, it’s a problem. That is why there is so little spiritual growth in nominal Christianity. Jesus Christ is acclaimed as Savior, but religious activity is lord.
“I haven’t missed a service at my church in twenty years.” That’s great! But that won’t earn any merits with God. Jesus gave an account of a servant who tended the cattle and worked in the fields all day. At evening he came in, girded himself, and served his master. After his master finished eating, then he himself ate. Did the master thank the servant for doing what was commanded? No, he didn’t! Jesus finished the story by saying, So likewise ye, when ye have done all those things which are commanded of you say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. Luke 17:10.
Colossians 2:16-17 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink,
or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body (substance) is of Christ.
Don’t get caught up in this. Don’t let others put you in a place where you feel condemned if you don’t live up to their legalistic standards. “Well, there are some meats you should not eat.” Or, “There are some drinks you can’t drink.” Or, “You have to respect one day above another. The Sabbath is a holy day and you have to respect it and give it special honor.” Paul says that these things are but a shadow of things to come, but the substance is Christ.
As an example, let’s discuss the Sabbath. It is common for many Christians to give reverence to the Sabbath and respect it above other days – whether they regard Saturday or Sunday as the Sabbath, it is the same principle. What is the true Sabbath? The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work. Exodus 20:10. Bear no burden on the Sabbath day. Jeremiah 17:21. When the Pharisees condemned Jesus for the works He did on the Sabbath, He said: The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath. Mark 2:27-28. In Hebrews chapter 4 the Bible says that the Sabbath rest was not experienced under Joshua; neither was it found under David (Hebrews 4:4-8). Then it says in verses 9-11: There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
The sabbath, then, is the Kingdom of God; it is a walk in the spirit. In other words, when we quit laboring, doing works for God (works of merit), and allow Him to work through us, then we are keeping the Sabbath. When we are doing works for God, then we are separating ourselves from Him. That is why Jesus said, Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you…and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30. Taking His yoke upon you does not mean that the work stops, but the way it is done is changed. When a person tries to do the will of God without taking on the yoke of His Lordship, it is a labor and a struggle; he is doing it by his own human energies. If you take on the yoke of His Lordship, then you carry His authority and the load is light. Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6. In other words, we stop doing for Him, and He starts doing through us. That is the Sabbath rest.
Do you see how subtle Satan is? He is not so concerned about people accepting Jesus Christ as Savior, but he definitely does not want Jesus to be the Lord over them. If he can get Christians involved in religious activities so that becomes their main focus, honoring the Sabbath day and other rituals, then he has them defeated already. When a Christian gets caught up in that he is cut off from the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
If we are striving to please men, we will not please Christ because we are putting man above Him. Many ministers fall into that trap. They will go to all lengths to please the congregation, particularly the deacon board, because they don’t want to lose their jobs. Consequently, men have become the lord over the pastor, and the ministry cannot be fruitful in God.
Here is another way that Christians are cut off from serving the Lord Jesus Christ. Each denomination and church organization has its own dogma and creed. Anyone that becomes a member has to submit to their rules and regulations. The result is that their organization is now the lord instead of Christ. Oh, what deception! No wonder the church-world is so dead. We must get back to the Lordship of Jesus Christ!
Galatians 1:11-12 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which
was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Here is the key! Our salvation must rest upon a revelation of Jesus Christ as Lord. If Christianity is going to be a way of life instead of a religion, then there has to be a revelation of the Lord. And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent. John 17:3. When a Christian does not really know the Lord, he substitutes religious activities, traditions, rituals, etc., for the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
On one particular occasion when I was waiting on the Lord, He spoke something to me that was a key to understanding the Bible in a greater way. He said, “Jesus Christ did not come to begin a new religion called Christianity; He came to deliver men from religion.” Think about it.
Abraham was called out of the land of Ur of Chaldees, and he walked with God. Paul points out that Abraham was not counted as righteous because of circumcision, but because of faith, for Abraham had not been circumcised at that time (Romans 4:9-12).
Moses also knew the Lord and walked with Him. It was a way of life for him, but with the people of Israel it was not a way of life. He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel. Psalm 103:7. Israel saw what God did, but Moses knew how He did it. In other words, Moses knew the Lord, but the children of Israel did not. So what happened because of that? Israel had their ceremonies, the animal sacrifices for the various offerings, the Ark of the Covenant, the Ten Commandments, laws concerning pots, pans, washings, food, etc. – you name it, they had laws and regulations about it. However, they couldn’t keep their minds and hearts on the fact that when they brought a lamb to the priest to be slain, and confessed their sins over it, that it was a type of the Messiah that was to come. Their faith was in religious acts and traditions. In other words, what they were doing became a religion to them. And that is why the day finally came when God said that He hated their religiosity. I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer Me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from Me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. Amos 5:21-24. The Lord is the one who laid out this plan and mode of worship; now He is saying He hates it. Why? He hated it because they made a religion out of it. They could have had a walk with God the same as Moses. Instead of putting their faith in the loving kindness of the Lord, they put it in things that were only a shadow of things to come.
Everyone is religious until they have been delivered from it. Tribes that have never been exposed to civilization worship something. Atheists are religious. Religiosity is a basic characteristic of human nature. So Israel took what God gave them and made a religion out of it. Consequently, He judged them and sent them into captivity. So when Jesus came it was to deliver men from religion. Now can we take Christianity and make a religion out of it, as did Israel? We sure can! And many people do. Religion is big business. That is the kind of gospel that Paul says is accursed. We must not let our experience with the Lord become a religion. It has to be a way of life. We must know Him!
Galatians 2:16-21 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of
the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus
Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works
of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
I want to point out something in verses 16 and 20. Verse 16 says, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ. Notice that Paul does not say “by faith in Jesus Christ,” but he says “by the faith of Jesus Christ.” In the middle of the same verse he says it again – that we might be justified by the faith of Christ. Then in verse 20 Paul says, I live by the faith of the Son of God. Do you see the difference? Most of us usually say, “I have faith in Jesus.” But Paul says, “I have the faith ofJesus.”
Having faith in Jesus is a good start, but it is not the ultimate. We must come to the place where it is His faith operating in us. When I first saw this the Lord reminded me of Mark 11:22, which says in the King James translation, “Have faith in God.” However, the Greek reads, “Have the faith of God.” How many times have you tried to discipline yourself to have faith in the Lord and knew all the time you weren’t making it? Alright, instead of trying to generate faith within yourself just submit to the Lord and let His faith work through you.
Let’s not be deceived by the “another gospel,” but let’s open our hearts for the Lord to be a present reality to us.
Copyright © 2003 by Henry DuBose